Zombies + math = serious disease

A mathematics professor at the University of Ottawa has found a way to connect math with disease research in a lighthearted manner by adding some flesh-eating zombies.

It’s supposed to be an entertaining approach to disease modeling using fictional zombies to illustrate how real disease can be modeled with mathematics.

Robert Smith? (yes, that’s Smith with a question mark) is originally from Australia, now living in Canada, and studied sewage treatment, toxic waste cleanup, and infectious disease to earn his PhD.

At the University of Western Ontario he applied a technique known as Impulsive Differential Equations to drug taking, to create a complex HIV model. He then used that modeling to discuss drug resistance.

Smith? now teaches at the University of Ottawa where he’s still working on HIV, but has recently become interested in human papillomavirus, malaria, various tropical diseases—and, of course, zombies. Smith? says his work on zombies has grabbed quite a lot of attention and it thrills him to have academic discussions about his mathematical model and flesh-eating undead.

He will bring his humour and knowhow to the stage – along with mathematical equations – and perhaps even a zombie at Kelowna's Rotary Centre for the Arts on March 28 at 7 p.m.

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